Your Choice Of Brake Pads Affects Your Experience Behind The Wheel

When you have brake work done on your car, you can choose the type of brake pads installed. Many people don't know this and allow the auto brake repair shop to put on their default pads. When you understand the different type of brake pads available, you can decide which are best for your car and driving style.

Semi-Metallic Brake Pads

These are formed by embedding small pieces of metal into a flexible resin base. The metal pieces cause friction against the brake rotors to slow down the car. This is the standard brake pad installed by most auto shops.

The metals used in the pads include graphite, iron, steel, and copper. The pad may use only one type of metal or be a collection of several types. The metal pieces can also vary in size. Smaller pieces of metal in the resin base increase the price of these brake pads.

While these are the all-purpose pads and do perform well in a variety of conditions, some of the drawbacks include:

  • The pads create a fine black dust on the wheels and other surfaces of the car.
  • These pads are the nosiest of all the types of brake pads.
  • The pads require being warmed up before they perform at their peak performance.

Non-Asbestos Organic (NAO) Brake Pads

These pads use fine pieces of rubber, glass or Kevlar in the resin base instead of metal. These pads are quieter than the all-metal pads, but they still produce a fine dust on the car. They need less warming up, so they are better for pulling heavy trailers or driving on hilly terrain. They do retain heat longer and require cooling off periods if driving for long periods on mountainous roads.

These are good pads for the stop-and-go driving in urban areas. They do wear out faster than semi-metallic pads and are more expensive.

Low-Metallic NAO Brake Pads

To get around the heat build up in NAO pads, these pads include small pieces of metal in the design. This lets them perform better at all temperature extremes and doesn't require a cooling off period. But, they are nosier than the standard NAO pads and they still produce the fine dust on the car. These pads wear better than NAO pads and are more expensive.

Ceramic Brake Pads

These brake pads use ceramic fibers in the resin. Ceramic pads produce no dust, which makes them a good choice for luxury vehicles. They are not as effective in temperature extremes, so they are best used in urban settings. These are the quietest of all the types of pads and also the most expensive. The ceramic in these pads is hard on the brake rotors and will cause them to need to be replaced more often than when using the other types of pads.